Team Liv-Plantur makes it 2016 season debut early next month at the eighth Ladies Tour of Qatar. The team twice won the race with Kirsten Wild but this season is backing Sara Mustonen for sprint stages.
"With Sara we can go for stage results in the sprint," said coach Hans Timmermans. "Our training camp in Calpe, Spain, has gone very well and we are going to Qatar with confidence. In the stages with a risk of echelons we will have to race attentively and grab bonus seconds whenever possible. In this way we will explore our GC possibilities."
The first day of the four-stage race takes place on the same course to be used in October's World Championships with the riders covering 97km from Katara Culture Village to Qatar University on February 2. Stage 2, which takes the riders from Sheikh Faisal Museum to Al Khor Corniche, is the longest of race at 120km as stage 3 covers 112km from Al Zubarah Fort to Madinat Al Shamal with the fourth and final stage from Aspire Zone to Doha Corniche just 73km in length.
Liv-Plantur for the 2016 Ladies Tour of Qatar: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Sara Mustonen (SWE), Julia Soek (NED), Kyara Stijns (NED) and Molly Weaver (GBR).
Bjarne Riis back in the WorldTour?
A Facebook message from former Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen has fuelled suggestions the that Bjarne Riis, former manager of the WorldTour Saxo Bank team, could make a return to the top level of the sport with a press conference called on February 25 in Copenhagen to reveal further details.
"OK. There seems to be interest in my and Bjarne Riis's cooperation. Thank you for that! We are both looking forward to announcing our plans for the Riis * Seier project at a press conference the 25th of February, 12:30 at Hotel d’Angleterre. Thanks for the interest and the support. Best regards, Bjarne Riis and Lars Seier Christensen," the message read.
Riis and Tinkoff-Saxo parted ways in March last year with Oleg Tinkov taking sole ownership of the team. In April last year, Christensen denied rumours he would be ending sponsorship of the team, which he had done since 2008, following the departure of Riis. However in October it was made official the bank was ending its deal with the team who are known as Tinkoff for 2016. Tinkov will also withdraw his sponsorship at the end of the season, possibly opening the door for Riis and Christensen to step in should they have the funds to do so.
Riis had previously been in discussion with Segafredo before the Italian coffee company went with the Trek team. The 51-year-old was also linked to the MTN-Qhubeka and Cult Energy teams in managerial roles last year.
Cadel Evans on his women's Great Ocean Road Race
The presence of Mark Cavendish in Geelong for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is occupying the majority of cycling columns ahead of Sunday's race but before the Dimension Data rider makes his road debut for 2016, the women's edition of the race will take place Saturday. When Evans was creating his race, he stressed the importance of a women's race being part of a weekend 'package' and reiterated his position at a press conference Wednesday.
"I’d like to think we offer one of the better-organised races in the women’s calendar," Evans said. "We’d also like in the future to achieve a higher UCI ranking, and be the start point of the women’s international season," Evans said.
"Also to be part of working with the sport to grow the sport. Females make up 50 per cent of the population, so let’s be part of that. As far as I understand the women’s race last year was a huge success – the riders were very happy. I’d like to think we’re giving them a great opportunity to start their season in a really professional environment."
Rachel Neylan starts the race as the defending champion and will be one of the favourites for the win with a strong Orica-AIS team backing her bid for victory.
Drapac's Jayco Herald Sun Tour squad
Australian Pro-Continental team Drapac have announced its six-rider roster for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour that kicks off Wednesday next week with a 2.1km prologue along Melbourne's Southbank.
"We have a strong team for the race and will look to be active in each stage," said Will Clarke, who won the prologue last year. "Personally, I am looking for a top performance throughout the race and can hopefully pick up a stage win along the way."
Having won a stage on its debut appearance at the Tour de San Luis via Peter Konig, sports director Tom Southam explained the team's motivation is high as he outlined the ambition for the week.
"Our goals as a team are to put a rider on the podium and race for stage wins," he said. "The team found early success in the first stages and has a history of amazing performances in the unique short prologue and it’s always nice to start on a high. We have last year’s prologue winner in Clarke, who will be motivated for it once again."
Joining Clarke are Tom Scully, Adam Phelan, Travis Meyer and GC aspirants Lachlan Norris and Nathan Earle.
HP BTP–Auber93 present 2016 team
French Continental team HP BTP–Auber93 have launched its 2016 team at a ceremony in Paris. Former yellow jersey wearer at the Tour de France, Romain Feillu, who explained he has "wanted to take this team to the top. I'm really happy to be there." The team will ride SRAM-equipped Look bikes in 2016. Steve Tronet won the French national road title for the team in 2015 but moves up to Pro-Continental ranks in 2016 with Fortuneo Vital Concept.
From Aubervilliers in the Parisian department of Saint-Dennis, the team has added new sponsors for 2016 in HP and BTP and will race such events as the Critérium International in March. There is also an U23 and women's HP BTP–Auber93 squad team.
The 2016 Look team bike of HP BTP–Auber93 (Bettini)